Breckenridge Texan

Candlelight vigil at Stephens County Courthouse honors local foster children

Candlelight vigil at Stephens County Courthouse honors local foster children
April 30
11:08 2021

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Members of the Stephens County Child Welfare Board and others gathered for a candlelight vigil in front of the courthouse Thursday evening, April 29, to remember and pray for local children who are in foster care.

Stephens County Judge Michael Roach leads members of the Child Welfare Board in prayer Thursday evening. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, and the the local child welfare board has worked all month to bring attention to the problems of child abuse and neglect. They worked with Stephens County Judge Michael Roach to officially declare April as Child Abuse Awareness Month in Stephens County; they decorated the courthouse lawn with white crosses and other in remembrance of children who were died as a result of abuse or neglect in the past year; and they encouraged local churches to participate in Blue Sunday, a special day for churches and their parishioners to pray for the victims of child abuse.

According to Sharon Wimberley, chair of the Stephens County Child Welfare Board, there are 19 local children in foster care. They range in age from about a year and a half to 12.

Before the lighting of the candles took place, the County Judge spoke to the group and praised their work to assist the youngest members of the community. “I am proud to stand with y’all today, and I thank you all for the work you do,” he said. “You just do amazing work. Thank you so much for that.”

Then, Roach, who is also the pastor at The Lighthouse Church in Breckenridge, led the group in a prayer for the children who are abused or neglected, for the members of the Child Welfare Board and for the foster families who take in the children.

Sandy Broyles, Fran Sikes and Carla Barnes light their candles during the vigil on Thursday night. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Then, one by one, each participant in the ceremony lit their candle and read aloud the gender and age of the child or children they were honoring.

Members of the Child Welfare Board urge everyone to familiarize themselves with the signs of abuse and neglect and to report their suspicions to the authorities.

Some of the signs of child abuse include:

  • Sudden changes in behavior or school performance
  • Not receiving help for medical problems, especially after the problems have been brought to the parents’ attention.
  • Learning problems that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes.
  • Always being watchful, as though they are preparing for something bad to happen.
  • Lacking adult supervision.
  • Being overly compliant, passive or withdrawn.
  • Coming early to events or activities, including school, church or youth groups, as well as staying late and being reluctant to leave.

If you believe that a child is in immediate danger from child abuse or neglect, call 9-1-1 immediately and report your concerns to local law enforcement. Child abuse/neglect may also be reported by calling the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400 or by going online to www.txabusehotline.org.

Members of the Stephens County Child Welfare Board include Sharon Wimberley, Alva Carey, Jan Davis, Carla Barnes, Fran Sikes, Sandy Broyles, Linda Lippe, Linda Burdic, Ruth Taylor and Stephanee Russell.

Jim Davis, center, reads information about the foster child his candle represents during a vigil on Thursday evening in front of the Stephens County Courthouse. Pictured, from left, are Linda Lippe, Linda Burdic, Jan Davis, Jim Davis and Ruth Taylor. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Members of the Stephens County Child Welfare Board and others gathered for a candlelight vigil on Thursday evening, in front of the courthouse. Pictured, from left, are Paul Lippe, Linda Lippe, Linda Burdic, Jan Davis, Jim Davis, Ruth Taylor, Sandy Broyles, Fran Sikes, Carla Barnes, Sharon Wimberley and Michael Roach. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Cutline, top photo: Stephens County Judge Michael Roach leads members of the Child Welfare Board in prayer Thursday evening. Also pictured are, from left, Paul Lippe, Linda Lippe, Linda Burdic, Jan Davis, Jim Davis, Ruth Taylor, Sandy Broyles, Fran Sikes, Carla Barnes, Sharon Wimberley (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)


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